Kirk Cameron on marriage: The blind leading the blind


Ow, that hurt,  But not as much as reading this:

Woman with a Mancard: My Night at Kirk Cameron’s Marriage-Strengthening Event

Now, I’ve found Kirk Cameron’s Christian antics annoying for many years.  Since my friend Brian Sapient debated him and his Sith master Ray Comfort back in 2007, I have found him to be a pretty dense tool (almost as bad as Tof Friel, really), but this recent event just makes me want to scream with frustration.

Now, I want to write more substantially about the concept of marriage in the next day or so (mostly because I just got engaged to the lovely Ginny), but for now I want to say a few quick things about the idea of marriage, relationships in general, and the role of men and women in them.  I want to say these things because I think that the current model of marriage in the evangelical Christian community is poisonous for both men and women, advocates an immature way for men and women to communicate and interrelate, and just generally sucks giant troll balls.

And what’s worse, it informs many of our ‘traditional’ definitions of marriage.

Kirk Cameron advocates a model of marriage with the man (and there always will be a man, as marriage is defined as an institution between one man and one woman of course), is supposed to “play the role of Jesus Christ to your wife.”  There is no equality, no real sense of compromise, and certainly no meaningful feminism here.  The man is unambiguously in charge of his wife.  This is not a relationship of equals, but one of a power relationship.  Just as we are to obey God, the wife is to obey the husband.  Sure, if he has “crossed the line” (meaning, is emotionally/physically abusive) then he is not “protecting her” (because that is part of his job, of course) and is not doing his job well. But I doubt that divorce would be an option, as god ordained these marriages, and only we can fail in them;  not god.

This is but one of the many aspects of current Christian trends that makes me feel sick.  It promotes clearly obsolete gender roles, places people (specifically women) in a place of subservience (and not in the fun and kinky way that some women like, although I’m sure there is some overlap), and (again) it promotes vigorous suction on the balls of the troll which may or may not live under the bridge near your house.  His name is Ted.

The irony for me is that many people in our culture, even less batshit nutzoid people than Kirk Cameron, think that gay marriage or polyamorous marriage (not to be confused with the often harmful polygamous marriage) is unhealthy while finding this version of marriage proposed by evangelicals to be relatively healthy.  At least (they may say) they are really committed to each other.  Or they may say that at least it is the way god intended marriage to be.  This is an indication of a fundamental disease at the root of our culture when it comes to thinking about marriage and gender roles. There is no wonder that divorce and teen pregnancy rates are higher among so-called red states; it is these areas which are more prone to this unhealthy model of marriage.

I love my future wife.  I love her in a way that a man who sees himself as the master of his wife simply cannot.  I am genuinely interested in seeing her free, fulfilled, and treated as the equal that she is.  I cannot, not would I try, to “put my foot down” or to make a proclamation about what will be what.  It may be hard, we may disagree, but we will communicate openly about all of our desires, fears, and joys. Further, she loves me (this I know, for the Bible…wait, never mind…).  She desires me to be fulfilled, free, and will allow me to be who I am, genuinely, inside.  Neither of us has to pretend.  We don’t have to strive for some fantasy ideal or deny aspects of our selves in sacrifice for our relationship, because our relationship is about a celebration of our selves.

I will put my relationship against that between Kirk Cameron and his wife any day of the week.  Any man who sees his wife as subservient, who plays off of old cultural roles for each spouse without any hint of skepticism towards their ideological merit, or who gives men “man cards” which their wives are not even allowed to see is a weak and cowardly man.  His worldview is weak and cowardly, and it is a conservative worldview whose influence stretches beyond the evangelical Christian world, but surely dominates that world.

I know too many people, men and women (they are really boys and girls, even in their late 20’s or 30’s) who are inexperienced sexually, relationship-wise, and therefore emotionally stunted.  They see this ideal life and marriage set up before them and do not relent even as they fail over and over to find it’s reality.  They believe that Jesus will provide for them, and cannot see their own blindness.

And many of these “values” seep into mainstream culture, where (outside of the educated upper middle class generation I grew up around) these ideas are still held with reverence.  Heteronormative monogamous male-dominated marriage is more the norm than I think many of us educated and elitist types want to admit–and possibly more than we realize.  This idea of the traditional marriage, which is not even traditional if we want to be truly historical about it, is what is doing damage to real human relationships.  Not gay marriage.  Not polyamorous people who are married and who may want a legalized polyamorous marriage.

It is the closed-minded version of what god wants, what is right, what is ‘Merican even, that will destroy our relationships.

[/end rant]

4 thoughts on “Kirk Cameron on marriage: The blind leading the blind

  1. Shaun, I don’t know what you’re getting so riled up about. Eve was allowed to go off on her own one day while Adam neglected to keep an eye on her, and we all see how that turned out. It is clear that the fabric of society is becoming tattered as our men refuse to take on their ordained role as provider and protector. Women are delicate forms of clay meant to be molded to perfection. If a man is unable to maintain his wife’s form, he has failed us all. She can not do this on her own!

    Pardon me, I passed out for a second. Where was I just now?

    I had a conversation with a female coworker a little while ago in which she stated that women having careers was tearing our family unit apart, that things were way better in the ’50’s. My response was simply that we are in a time of adjustment. Gender roles are going out the window, regardless of Kirk Cameron’s valiant efforts, and while I agree that perhaps familial cohesiveness is not the focus of many people now, I believe that it will be again, but only when it is acknowledged that in today’s world, all members of the household are responsible for success. Burdening yourself as the sole provider in a reality where one income is not usually sufficient is dumb. Not getting into the kitchen to start dinner when your wife isn’t home yet from work is dumb. Obsessing over what makes you a man does not make you more of a man, but rather, just an asshole.

    The old model would seem to be based on fear and it would appear that Cameron is trying to resurrect this view. Sure, promising not to beat your wife when she gets uppity is nice and all, but they seem to be making the additional point that you must keep her in line…just without physical violence. And I think the subtext here is that you wouldn’t want to risk hurting her precious womb or cookin’ and cleanin’ hands. His list of things a husband should do is patronizing and states that you should treat women like children. Trick them into thinking you care about them as human beings because then they will be more likely to bow to your will. And ladies, if you find yourself plagued by an opinion or if you disagree with your husband, be prepared to feel guilty for challenging your husband’s resolve to not break a chair over your head. Can’t you see how difficult you make this???

    I’m not too worried about this…our country is filled with too many weirdos for this to ever become the true standard.

  2. I daresay, if I ever get the slightest hint that a man wants to break a chair over my head, he better start running! ;D

  3. Some may not like my view but men and
    women have diffrent roles in any relationship they share. That’s not to imply that one stands above the other, it just means to me that those differences are important to making any relationship between them work. And for one to dominate the other, more often than not will at some point upset the apple cart. We are physically, mentally, and emotionally different and that’s the beauty of any relationship that works,that figures out how to meld them together and makes the whole better.

  4. @just h,

    it looks like your understanding of gender is limited. Not only are there not inherent behavioral differences between the genders, there are not simply 2 genders. Most of what distinguishes gender are cultural in origin, not genetic. Gender roles, therefore, only seek to advance the simplistic views of traditional and anti-woman ideas.

    So, what roles should men and women have? And why?

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